Best theater of 2022: So many L.A. bright spots in L.A. despite a challenging year

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Just when you think things are about to improve, the reality of what we’ve been dealing with sinks in. Let’s not hide the truth: 2022 was a bruiser, economically and emotionally.

We were told by the president that we’re past the pandemic, but we’re still getting sick and too many are still dying. Theaters slowly returned to full programming, yet the habit of theatergoing hasn’t been easy to restart. Masks became optional, but this flexible policy only created more cognitive dissonance.

When I look back, however, I’m startled by the year’s theatrical richness. There were too many exceptional local productions for me to make room for Broadway highlights. But let me just say that Michael R. Jackson’s groundbreaking “A Strange Loop,” Lea Michele’s tour de force in “Funny Girl” and, what is for me the best play of the year, Tom Stoppard’s “Leopoldstadt,” would be at the top of my list.

There were also several top-notch theater books that deserve a shout-out. Isaac Butler’s “The Method: How the 20th Century Learned to Act,” Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green’s “Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers,” Carey Perloff’s “Pinter and Stoppard: A Director’s View” and D.T. Max’s “Finale: Late Conversations With Stephen Sondheim” pulsated with theatrical sensibility and insight into the art form.

But without further ado, these are the treasures (in alphabetical order) of my 2022 SoCal theatergoing.

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